Thursday, January 19, 2017

AO Day 4: Djown Goes Djokovic

Hey Y'all. Galileo here.

Welcome to Day Four. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one losing count.

And it is a day of big news. Novak Djokovic has collapsed to a five set defeat at the hands of Denis Istomin. Of course, you can focus on the match intricately, and we will, but the wider implications are more important. To lose at Wimbledon to Sam Querrey, who plays best on that surface, is one thing. That is understandable and borderline forgivable. But to lose on his best surface at an event he has won six times in nine years...well, that’s a poor loss.

His tenure at the top has not fallen slowly, it has crashed down around his ears. His career is in tatters right now. Harsh for a player still ranked number two, yes, but this does feel like a hammer blow to Nole. How does he recover from this?

This loss gives opportunities to Grigor Dimitrov and Richard Gasquet. The winner of that could go to the semi-finals. Raonic, too, should have the finals in his grasp. But this presents the biggest chance to Murray. If he blows it now and does not win this slam, well, that’s a shocking effort. He has to win. If he doesn’t win in these circumstances he shouldn’t be allowed into the HOF.

In other news, Gael Monfils continued his run with a 6-3, 6-4, 1-6, 6-0 win over Alexandr Dolgopolov. He has been so consistent recently. He just looks really good. Alexander Zverev dealt Frances Tiafoe a stern setback, with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 win on show Court Two. The match did not even last two hours.

After surviving Naomi Broady in three epic sets, Dasha Gavrilova has done it again. She ran out a 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 winner over big-hitting Ana Konjuh. It was touch and go at times during the third set, but her eclectic mix of slices, spins and weird loopy shots worked excellently. And that forehand is an enormous weapon. She thrilled the crowd, with her dancing and spinning throughout. But in her mind there is always sunshine, so what do you expect?

She gets points for co-ordinating her purple nails to her dress, too.

Sadly, in the doubles the Dashas are gone. They lost 6-2, 6-4 to Errani/Flipkens. Really, it has not been a good tournament for Kasatkina. Or for my predictions. Todd always does better than I do in the predictions game, anyway. That’s why he’s the CEO of BACKSPIN productions, king of BACKSPIN HQ and lord of BACKSPIN Manor.

Right, let’s get on.

*Suicide Picks*
MS 1st Rd: Gasquet d. Mott {W}
MS 2nd Rd: Tomic d. Estrella Burgos {W}
MS 3rd Rd: Nishikori d. Lacko
WS 1st Rd: Wozniacki d. Rodionova {W}
WS 2nd Rd: Konta d. Osaka {W}
WS 3rd Rd: Venus d. Duan

...Just as Djokovic begins to look shaky, Nadal and Federer heat up. Rafa dismissed Bagman 6-3, 6-1, 6-3. At least the Cypriot managed to drag it out to last over two hours. 42 errors off the racket of his opponent helped Rafa in this ‘contest’ but, really, this was just a vintage Nadal performance. When those happen you don’t have a prayer. Rafa blasted 32 winners and broke six times to come through. Sure, he needs to cut out the 33 errors, but there is nowhere to find fault here. Up next is 24th seed Zverev, and he is on fire. How will Rafa do against the arsenal of the German? That one is still one to to put on the upset alert.
...Istomin came through 7-6[8], 5-7, 2-6, 7-6[5], 6-4. Wow. To come back from two sets to one down against the defending champion is something else, it really is. As much as this is worrying, it was more of a Rosol occurrence than anything else. Istomin was on fire, he was hitting the ball at an incredible clip. The winners were zinging off his racket. 63 of them. Five less than Djokovic, but the Serbian hit 72 errors. It may be the most he has ever hit in one match. He wasn’t feeling it today, but his opponent unfortunately found the zone. Djokovic won seven more points and two more games. He also broke two more times than his opponent. There is no explanation for this. It was a horrible fluke. But it is disastrous for Nole. He is in danger in falling out of the top two. And he stands a much better chance with a top two seed. It’s about that confidence.

But at least his humour is intact.

Question: "What do you take from that loss?
Djokovic: "My bags. And I go home"

And that is that. Istomin gets Busta. And a shot at a second career.
...Sometimes you can look at a player during a slam and realize suddenly that they’re really good. Flying totally under the radar, Raonic has proved to be just utterly competent. He has one of the top two or three mentalities on the tour. He is cooler than James Bond on ice. Nothing fazes him. It’s that simple game plan: big serve, big forehand. You just know he’s going to win multiple slams. Actually, I found a racket smash. But how does it compare to the masters?

Ahem. He looked every inch a champion in his 6-3, 6-4, 7-6[4] win over tricky customer Muller. The key stat - 21 aces to 7. Just 7 aces for Muller. That speaks volumes about how far Raonic has come. 2-0 on the breaks count to the Canuck. Sometimes 2 is all you need. At Flushing Meadows, you don’t need any. And how about Raonic going 56-15 on the winners to errors count. Now let’s see him do it against Gilles Simon.
...You have to admire the fight, the guts of some of these young guns. Thiem may have won 6-2, 6-1, 6-7[6], 6-4, but kudos goes to his challenger for extending it to two and three quarter hours. Thiem won in four in the first round. This time it was the same. That third set was as long as the first two combined. Thompson saved a match point serving at 5-6 and then took the breaker on his second set point. It was such a gutsy, "I’m taking this to four no matter what" attitude that only being impressed will do. Thiem’s headband was pretty good, though the jury is still out on the hair.

Australia is shaping up as the force to be reckoned with in future years. On both sides of the tour, the land down under is looking really impressive. Thiem would face the winner of Fognini and Paire. So no easy task up next.
...Blown away in the first set, Dimitrov responded superbly. He won 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. The stats were similar - both men broke five times. The Korean was 38 apiece on winners and errors, Dimitrov 41-43. The rallies were super, particularly crosscourt, and the difference maker was an interesting one. Somehow it was the experience Dimitrov had that helped him here. Imagine it - you’re on a show court and this kid, this 20-year-old ranked 105 in the world comes and kicks your behind. It’s kind of embarrassing. But what a response. Previously this might have been the kind of match Dimitrov would’ve crumbled in. But not this year. No, he steadied himself and slowly ground out a tricky match.
...If you put Paire into a grand slam final, he could win it. But string seven wins together? That will never happen. Yet he managed to outlast Fognini today 7-6[3], 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. 133 unforced errors throughout the contest did not mar an exciting match. Just two points separated the two after the three-and-a-half-hour contest. The last time he got this far was the 2015 U.S. Open, where he won that third round match. So this opportunity against Thiem is a big one. The Frenchie can’t afford to blow it. So expect him to lose and win about five games.

Thanks all and visit WTA BACKSPIN please.

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